What causes a high performer to lose their passion for their job? The work could be rewarding, the team efficient and capable, and the pay excellent, and yet still they may feel unfulfilled.
Why could this be?
According to a survey by Forbes Magazine on why people leave their jobs, money is no longer the major motivator. The potential for added responsibility and the opportunity to grow are.
Galia BarHava-Monteith, a trained psychologist and co-founder of Professionelle, agrees.
“What I’m finding more and more, especially with younger people, is that the stars, the people that can really give all they’ve got to the work, for them increasingly professional life has to be more inclusive of all parts of their life.”
Michael E. Kibler in an article for the Harvard Business Review referred to this as ‘Brownout’, distinguishing it from burnout in that the workers are not overtly stressed, but they are struggling on the inside.
Galia believes a large part of this is because the best workers want to be “bringing their whole self to work”; they want to be authentic across the whole of their lives.
“In a world that we increasingly bring our work home, the idea that you put on your suit (or your amour) and your work persona and mask, and then you come home and put on a different mask, it’s increasingly difficult to do.”
The lines between home life and working life are continually blurred, and Galia says many employees wish their managers appreciated this.
“The first step for managers is to ask themselves ‘Am I bringing my whole self to work?’ Because if you’re not, chances are the ones around you won’t be. I ask them, have you ever thought about that? And if you can’t, why can’t you? Can you make changes that will allow you to? Because once you do, your staff will be able to bring their whole selves to work too.
Galia of course acknowledges that sometimes, we do need to adjust our behaviour to the work context, but she suggests that if we have to do so to the point we are unrecognisable between the two parts, something isn’t working.
“Where you start a change process is always with your own behaviour.”
Recruitment expert Greg Savage wrote in a blog called People don’t leave companies. They leave leaders! that, “Mostly, people don’t change jobs solely for money. They almost never resign on a whim, or in a fit of anger. They joined your company because they believed it right for them, and actually they want it to be right. Something, at some point, makes it wrong. And if you really take the time to dig into their real reasons for leaving – and you should – you will find that it’s not ‘the company’ they blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning. It’s the leadership!”
Galia acknowledges that this can be hard for some managers to accept.
“Most of us see ourselves as good, competent people and evidence that tells us otherwise can be very hard to deal with. So you can either dismiss the evidence, which is the easy thing to do, or you can do the hard thing which is accept it and see what you can do.”
And the things you can do are often simple and cheap. They just take a bit of thought and planning.
“What you can do as a boss is ask your staff how they are and mean it,” Galia says. “You can put aside time to have coffee with them and find out how they are really going. None of that is expensive. It’s just time, and having the right head space. And make sure that if they do raise something with you, you give them the space to raise it.”
In the end, it’s simple.
“Ask yourself, what would make the biggest difference for you to want to work somewhere? The answer is always the quality of the relationship of who you work for and who you work with. No matter what amazing incentives they put in place, if your boss is an asshole, it’s not going to matter.
Galia BarHava-Monteith (@GaliaBM) is a speaker and co-founder of the Professionelle Foundation (www.professionelle.co.nz).
She is a highly experienced executive coach who combines her background in psychology, her PhD research on whole-person approach to healthcare and her management and board experiences to provide her clients with a highly tailored coaching experience.